We know it’s only June, and there’s a lot of 2018 to go. But we feel pretty confident in labelling Brunswick’s Project 281 this year’s Most Ambitious Cafe (last year the honour went to AU79, in case you were wondering).
In fact, Project 281 has a lot in common with AU79. They both follow the Jurassic Park no-expense-spared business model—properly massive space, in-house coffee roastery, more greenery than the Botanical Gardens. This one is the brainchild of Connell McGrath and Sargon Michael, previous owners of Coburg’s Glass Den. They spent the last 20 months combing over every last detail, from the menu to the 1000kg concrete planter boxes by the window (that’s not an exaggeration—they really do weigh a tonne).
Award-winning architecture firm Splinter Society handled the fit-out, construction some sort of uber-cafe: high industrial ceilings, garden beds, great beams of natural light, even a 50-square-metre herb garden on the mezzanine (the herbs go in your food).
And speaking of food, you can expect a shake-up. Connell and Sargon want to bring Korean & Japanese shared plates to the brunch scene. That means you can mix n’ match tasters like kimchi and salted cabbage, pickled veggies and compressed eggplant, with larger dishes like Bulgogi Burgers (this one’s a cracker) or beef brisket benedict with Korokke hollandaise.
And the coffee? Nothing short of the best. The boys’ have an in-house roastery—Founder Coffee Co—and they’ve roped in ‘master roastress’ Anne Cooper from Equilibrium to run it. There’s a big women-in-coffee focus here: Anne even sources her beans from a women-run farm in South America. You can pour over, espresso (house blend and single origin), and the Iced Coffee Sphere (iced coffee poured over a chocolate orb—sure to be an Instagram hit).
Still not impressed? There’s plan to open for dinner and build a rooftop bar. Seriously, Brunswick won’t need anything else.
One last piece of advice—save some room for the Japanese Taiyaki. Maple pear with nashi custard, berries, brandy coral (stay with us) and housemade vanilla ice-cream.
Do we have your attention now?
Image credit: Annika Kafcaloudis